10 Most Influential People in Decorative Concrete
How could we narrow down the numerous influential people in the industry to just 10? It wasn't easy, that's for sure. Our list is by no means all-inclusive, but here are brief profiles of 10 people we think continue to influence the decorative concrete industry in a positive way. Who should we have included? Sound off at our Facebook page.
Tom Ralston - Tom Ralston Concrete
One of Tom Ralston's most outstanding personality traits is his zealous desire to share his concrete revelations and discoveries.
For 25 years, the president of Tom Ralston Concrete in Santa Cruz, California, has conducted seminars and hands-on training events for such organizations as the American Society of Concrete Contractors Decorative Concrete Council, the American Institute of Architects and the National Ready Mix Association. His recognized expertise has led to consulting hobs and lucrative projects inside and outside the U.S.
Professional Trade Publications recognized Ralston's outstanding contributions to the industry and passion for decorative concrete by inducting him into the Decorative Concrete Hall of Fame in 2011. At World of Concrete 2014, the third-generation concrete contractor was honored by Hanley Wood for presenting 19 decorative concrete related seminars at WOC in seven years.
Ralston not only excels at public speaking but he's also published two books: "Cast-in-Place Concrete Countertops" and "Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete," both through Schiffer Publishing. Certified as a decorative concrete expert by the American concrete Institute, Ralston has had his work featured on the covers of seven magazines and has been featured in architectural, design and trade publications, including Concrete Decor. His company has received eight top honors at WOC, including Best Decorative Concrete Project in 2012 and 2014.
A member of Cabrillo College's Construction Management Board, Ralston conducts seminars at the college and will occasionally teach a concrete construction class at Chico State. "Teaching in and of itself has inherent rewards as it employs the principle, 'in giving we receive.' Add passion to the equation and there's even more incentive to move in that direction," says Ralston.
Through concrete work he's created unique and beautiful things, traversed the world from Atlanta to Aruba and so many places in between, and been part of too many fantastic projects to describe.
"My experiences provide additional fuel for passion and make me even more inclined to share them," he says. Although sometimes sensitive about sharing proprietary information with competitors, he usually does anyway. "If I am going to skate on the cutting edge of decorative concrete then what I did yesterday is not what I'm going to do today or tomorrow. I choose to believe that by giving away my thoughts and creations more will flow to me in abundance."
10 Most Unusual Concrete Creations
Here, the Concrete Decor Staff shares its top 10 favorite out-of-the-ordinary concrete creations that were featured or almost featured in the past 99 issues. The thin-shell pavilion and fabric-formed planter tied for first place, while the faux bois sconce and slippers tied for second. All the others, Nos. 5 through 10, received the same number of votes.
After the California Coastal Commission approved the beautification of Pleasure Point Park near Santa Cruz, Tom Ralston Concrete won the project bid. He campaigned for something more sophisticated than the surfer motif originally proposed, suggesting a series of curved terraces mirroring the look and feel of the nearby beach. His mock-ups included items like embedded sharks' teeth, fossilized scallop shells and sand dollars, beach glass, sand and - why not? - a concrete cast of a 5 million-year-old whalebone. The committee in charge, hesitant at first, ultimately embraced the idea.
10 Most Favorite Covers
From day one, we put a lot of thought into the covers for each issue of Concrete Decor magazine. Because it isn't available on newsstands, we don't have to try to appeal to the average grocery shopper standing in line, but we definitely want our cover images to be attention-grabbing. Out of the past 99 issues, we like to think that all 99 had amazing covers, but we did manage to pick our 100 favorites. How many of these do you remember or still have?
"Where the Tree is Born," by Tom Ralston Concrete of Santa Cruz, California, graces the J. Ellington Library in San Jose, California. To create this tree, Ralston and his team laid a thin rubber sheet on top of concrete and cut out the tree branch pattern. He sandblasted the area then acid stained the sandblasted branches. (Photo courtesy of Tom Ralston Concrete.)